Pape Mbaye was a famous entertainer in Senegal, he was enjoying a good life and was highly respected and admired for his singing, dancing, and storytelling, but one day he committed an unpardonable sin in the eyes of many of his countrymen, he helped stage a gay wedding. It also became apparent he might even be a gay person. In February of this year, the media reported stories about a gay wedding and Mbaye’s name was mentioned as the person who organized the affair. In the subsequent weeks, Mbaye was harassed by police, attacked by mobs, driven from his home, ripped to pieces by the media, and forced to live on the run. In July, the United States offered him refugee status which was unusual since most people who are persecuted for sexual orientation ordinarily obtain this status.
Mbaye is now in the Bronx living in semi-poverty and making it a point to avoid having much contact with the American community of Senegalese. He was stopped one day by a m an from Senegal who told him: “If you were in Senegal, I would kill you.” There is little doubt in poverty stricken Africa it is easier for governments to go after gays in order to distract people from poverty and war. Anti-gay hysteria is now sweeping large sections of the continent.
Mbaye is content to be in America. “There’s security, there’s independence, there’s peace” he says.